You may have heard the term resorption at some point in your life. It’s a common bodily function that involves one part of the body absorbing another. Resorption is a necessary process for some parts of your body, but not necessarily for your teeth.
What is Tooth Resorption?
Tooth resorption refers to the loss of a tooth or part of a tooth due to injury or irritation. It can affect different parts of a tooth, including the pulp, dentin, or root.
Types of Tooth Resorption
There are two types of tooth resorption – internal and external. It’s usually easier to identify external resorption because you can see it by looking in your mouth.
Internal Tooth Resorption
Internal tooth resorption affects the tissues in a tooth. It’s far less common and generally only diagnosed through x-rays. That makes those routine check-ups more important because the x-rays show dark spots where tissue should be.
External Tooth Resorption
External tooth resorption is the most common type. It can affect the outside of the tooth and may look like holes or chips. On an x-ray, affected roots will appear shorter and flatter than healthy roots.
Tooth Resorption and Baby Teeth
Would you be surprised to learn that tooth resorption is perfectly normal at one stage of life? While it’s not a good sign for permanent teeth, it’s part of the natural process of primary, or baby teeth. As children grow, the primary teeth need to loosen and fall out to make room for permanent teeth.
What Causes Tooth Resorption?
Several circumstances can trigger tooth resorption, but it’s not fully understood. External resorption generally results from an injury that causes swelling and the loss of bone or tissue. Additionally, long-term orthodontic use and untreated cavities can cause tooth resorption.
Symptoms of Tooth Resorption
Tooth resorption generally starts on the outside of the tooth and moves inward, but the symptoms can be tough to spot. In fact, some people don’t notice any of the symptoms for several years.
- Pain coming from the inside of the tooth, the root, or the crown,
- Discoloration that’s dark or pinkish
- Swollen and reddish gums
- Odd spacing between teeth
- Brittle teeth that chip easily
- Holes in the teeth that resemble cavities
Complications of Tooth Resorption
People can experience a variety of complications related to tooth resorption. Aside from pain related to the condition, you may experience:
- Tooth infections
- Crooked teeth
- Weakness and discoloration of the tooth
- Chips or holes in the teeth
- Loss of teeth
- Roots may recede
How Tooth Resorption is Treated
A dentist or dental hygienist may diagnose tooth resorption through a physical exam or x-rays. It’s important to let your dental team know about any mouth injuries you experienced to help with the diagnosis.
Treatment depends on the part of the tooth affected and how severe the damage is. You may require a root canal, crown, gum surgery, or tooth extraction. Since tooth resorption can affect the appearance of teeth, some adults have dental implants or dental veneers placed to improve their smiles.
Remember, the best way to avoid significant damage from tooth resorption is to catch it early. Maintaining regular check-ups with dental x-rays with your dental team is your best bet. If you are due for a check-up and teeth cleaning, the team at Jefferson Dental and Orthodontics is here for you. Book an appointment at the dental office nearest you!